Los Angeles - Jeep has finally pulled the covers off its Gladiator double cab bakkie and just as you would expect from a Wrangler with a load bay, it’s something of a Swiss Army knife on wheels.
Just like its SUV donor, the Gladiator can be ‘stripped’ in multiple ways, with owners able to fold down the windscreen, remove the doors and lower the soft top for a truly open-air experience - something that will be a unique selling point in its class. Buyers can also opt for a removable hard top.
The load bed itself features a lighting system (positioned beneath the rails) and a 400W external power source, and buyers can opt for Jeep’s ‘Trail Rail’ cargo management system for organising and securing items.
The Gladiator will be available at launch with a 212kW 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine, matched with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission, while a 194kW 3-litre V6 turbodiesel is set to join the range in 2020, mated to the aforementioned autobox.
Being Wrangler-based it also offers the very best 4x4 systems that Jeep has to offer (Command-Trac and Rock-Trak), as well as Tru-Lock electrically operated front and rear axle lockers, a Trac-Lock limited slip differential and sway-bar disconnector.
The interior is as per the Wrangler SUV, featuring the latest Uconnect touchscreen infotainment systems (in 17.8cm and 21.3cm sizes), and with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. Rubicon models offer a forward-facing camera for off-roading.
Nifty storage solutions feature throughout, according to Jeep, including an under-seat bin for storing the door and windscreen bolts after you’ve removed them.
While the Gladiator sounds like a match made in heaven for South African bakkie fans, the vehicle has yet to be officially confirmed for our market, according to Fiat Chrysler SA, although it certainly hasn’t been ruled out either. The international press release does mention that it will be available in European, Middle Eastern and African markets from 2020, which hopefully includes us.